REPORTING FROM LONDON -- Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing WikiLeaks website, was granted permission Monday to ask Britain's Supreme Court to rule on his possible extradition to Sweden to face allegations of sexual assault.
A lower court said Assange could take his case directly to the Supreme Court and request a hearing. Assange, 40, has been fighting extradition since a judge ruled in February that he should be sent to Stockholm to face allegations of raping and molesting two women in separate sexual encounters in August 2010.
The decision Monday gives Assange and his lawyers 14 days to file a request to have his case reviewed by the Supreme Court. If the court refuses to hear the matter, Assange would be extradited within days. If it accepts, the case would likely come before the court sometime next spring, the BBC reported.
Assange, who is Australian, denies any misconduct and says that his relations with the women were consensual. He argues that the case against him is politically motivated, a pretext to ship him onward to the United States, where the Obama administration has roundly condemned him for leaking thousands of diplomatic documents on his website.
He surrendered to police in London in December of last year after Sweden issued a warrant for his arrest. He has spent almost the entire time since then under "mansion arrest," living on a supporter’s sprawling country estate outside London but forced to wear an electronic tag and to abide by a curfew.
-- Henry Chu